Ikolomani defeat not a loss for ODM

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PHILIP ETALE

It doesn\’t matter where you are coming from. All that matters is where you are going – Brian Tracy.

First, I congratulate Dr Boni Khalwale for his re-election as the Ikolomani MP.  Secondly, I congratulate Benard Shinali, the ODM candidate who put up a brave fight against a seasoned politician and garnered an impressive 10,000 plus votes.  And thirdly, I join the rest of Kenyans who demystified the notion that ODM lost the Ikolomani seat hence weakening its stamina.

Majority of the callers on three FM stations that I managed to tune-in to, were very categorical and reasonable; that the Ikolomani by-election should not be used to gauge ODM\’s strength. A caller from Musoli in Ikolomani was clear in his argument. He said "we elected Khalwale as an individual and not because of his party, so let\’s not try to discredit the strength of ODM in Ikolomani, we are fully behind Raila."

Another caller from Eshimanyiro area in Ikolomani said on a vernacular station that "Khalwale told us when he was campaigning that if Ruto and Uhuru come here to ask for Presidential votes, please give it to Raila." Indeed, I agreed with the caller because I watched the clip on a local TV station last week where the politician made the remark.

A caller from Narok said "I am an ODM Member and I am Raila\’s staunchest supporter, I see no harm in the Ikolomani defeat, after all we never had the seat in the first place."

That tells you what kind of stuff ODM is made of; strong and solid. Truth be told, ODM faired pretty well in the by-election. 10,702 votes against Dr Khalwale\’s 13,208 is a big statement. Mr Shinali was fighting a concoction of political parties coalescing around PNU who were all campaigning against him.  It was ODM verses all the affiliates of the PNU Alliance.

If PNU was as strong as ODM is today, with strong structures and massive following across the country, it would have not had the fortitude to support a New Ford Kenya candidate. It would have fielded its own candidate to face off with Mr Shinali and Dr Khalwale.

Same to Narc-Kenya of Martha Karua, KADDU of Cyrus Jirongo, ODM-Kenya of Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, GNU of Mwangi  Kiunjuri, KANU of Uhuru Kenyatta and Ford-Kenya of Moses Wetangula among others.

I am sure, if all these parties had fielded candidates in Ikolomani, Mr Shinali and ODM would have floored them all. Dr Khalwale rode on the support of the PNU affiliates. That will not be the case in 2012 General Election. The 2012 General Election will be an everyone-for-himself event and there will be no time for politics of a helping hand. It will be a battle royale and that\’s when one will be able to gauge the strength of the ODM.

It would be a lie when one says that ODM lost the Ikolomani seat. The very simple question that would arise after such a statement is how do you lose what was never yours?  This weekend, Spanish football giants Barcelona FC and English Champions Manchester United FC are facing off in the finals of the UEFA Champions League at the Wembley Stadium. None of the two teams is the holder of the coveted trophy. So if anyone loses on Saturday, it will only give them the morale to regroup, re-energise and strategise for next season\’s victory.

But if the holders Inter-Milan of Italy were in the finals and lose to their opponents, then it would be a different story. They would have lost their championship to another team. That was the case in Ikolomani. ODM was fighting to win the seat from PNU\’s New Ford-Kenya.

Out of all the by-elections that have been held in the tenure of the 10th Parliament, ODM has performed well. For instance, the first ever by-election in Emuhaya and repeat polls in Wajir North and Kilgoris, ODM clinched two out of three.

When ODM lost its MPs in Ainamoi, Bomet and Sotik through death, it recaptured both seats. When the party\’s MP for Shinyalu Lirechi Lugano died, the party recaptured the seat. In Bomachoge, the party won the seat from PNU\’s Joel Onyancha. In Starehe Constituency and when Bishop Margaret Wanjiru of ODM lost her seat through a petition, she recaptured the seat comfortably. The only seat that ODM ever lost in a by-election this term is South Mugirango.

Isn\’t this an achievement on the side of ODM? ODM remains the party to beat in next year\’s general election. It is a party with the strongest grassroots support than any other party in Kenya today. It is the only single formidable party as opposed to its competitor which is a composition of over 30 political parties.

ODM competitors must know that life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it is about learning to dance in the rain. Challenges are a build-up to strength and as warriors ready to battle, nothing is left to chance.

As I sat confidently at the Laico Regency Hotel where IIEC was receiving results from polling stations in Ikolomani, I saw a people from different political parties that call themselves registered political parties jump almost to the roof of the hotel when results from the last polling stations of Emanyulia and Shamusinjili reflected on the screen; and that\’s when I knew that some political parties are just escorts.

In Ikolomani, ODM campaigned as a party that carries the hopes and aspirations of the people of Kenya. It stated facts, as the rest were reduced to reactionaries who only discredited ODM on the basis of impunity and other characteristics of bad politics.

As the people\’s party and a party that Kenyans are hoping on for a brighter and secure future, ODM should accept such challenges so that it may feel the exhilaration of victory. After all, the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. A well fought battle leads to greater success.

(The writer is the Director of Communications for ODM. The views expressed in this article are his own).

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